|Kelsey and Daniel Ballingall, here with their two-week-old son Odin, are among a number of Penticton area families gaining support from the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs through the HeraldÕs annual Be An Angel campaign.|
Kelsey and Daniel were married in September and then welcomed their first child in November, a beautiful baby boy named Odin.
However, these blessings have also come with new worries and financial strain which are especially felt at this time of year. Kelsey was forced to stop working in early October due to her pregnancy and maternity benefits are much less than her previous full-time salary. Daniel has only been able to find part-time work.
"I'm still adjusting to not working," Kelsey said. "It's hard to go from a full-time wage to getting half as much. It's a big adjustment, especially with Christmas coming."
Fortunately the couple has been able to find support in facing the demands of being first time parents and some much needed help with Christmas this year, thanks to the Okanagan Boys & Girls Clubs and the Penticton Herald's Be An Angel Campaign.
Ballingall has been attending clubs' Penticton program Positively Pregnant, for expecting and new parents with children ages birth to six. The family will also be receiving a Christmas hamper thanks to donations raised from the Be An Angel campaign.
"I've learned so much and I don't feel so alone anymore, "said Kelsey. "It's nice to be with people in the same situation. Everyone is so open and friendly and welcoming. I was a little reserved when I first started coming a few months ago, but the staff and other moms have helped me become open too."
The group meets every Tuesday in what looks like any family's living room with a kitchen and dining area in the back and of course lots of toys. Parents drop in to share the frustrations and joys of pregnancy and raising children, and receive important resources and information about pre-natal care, safety alerts, family nutrition and information about other community resources. Participants are also given gift cards each week to help with groceries and formula and the other necessary items which sometimes get pushed aside to pay rent and bills.
"The gift cards really help each week. Like today I'm out of milk but I know I can now go pick some up with the gift card," Kelsey said. "The staff here is just so great, they work so hard to help you. I sometimes feel I don't even deserve it, but I'm so thankful for them."
Receiving a Christmas Hamper of food and gifts for the family will also be especially appreciated.
"It will give us the security of knowing that we're not going to run out of something, and helps us feel more prepared for our first Christmas as a family. Without this support I wouldn't know what to do," she said.
The Herald's Be An Angel Campaign is held each Christmas to support the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs and Feed the Valley in their efforts to help local families in need. Donations can be made at the Herald office, on our website, or at any Valley First branch.